Have you ever done something in your life that made no sense to you? Or had an intense urge you couldn’t shake? Over the past few months, or half a year really, I have gone on a journey to something that completely snuck up on me. All of a sudden, I had the urge to run. And, I am not a runner. Or, at least, I hadn’t been since college 20 years earlier. But it was there. This urge. And it was intense. There was no denying that I needed to do it.
Ask any of my close friends and certainly my husband and they will tell you that there is one thing that I love – my sleep! Always have and likely always will. But here I was – setting the alarm clock for 5am to run. What??? Two habits that I have no idea where they came from. Getting up early to run in the dark before working a 10-hour day? You must be joking. Yet the desire to do it was so strong I couldn’t NOT do it. This leads me to the first of 13.1 lessons I learned from my 13.1-mile journey.
1st mile: Sometimes, even when you can’t see the ending, you start anyway.
It can be scary. You mean I am supposed to go somewhere and start moving toward something that I can’t even see? No GPS? No safety net? Yet, I am discovering that most things in life are just that - faith journeys. An opportunity to trust that little voice inside you that says “go” or “move”, “turn here” or “think again”. And, the power is in allowing yourself to respond to that inner voice before your brain kicks in to tell you the 10,000 little reasons why you shouldn’t. We are great rationalists. But sometimes we have to learn to drown out the naysayers in our own heads and grasp only to that voice that says “start”.
2nd mile: Life’s weather conditions will sometimes be stormy.
The storms will come, and if they haven’t come in your life yet, the saying goes to just keep living. But, that doesn’t mean you stop. Sometimes, storms come that shake you to your very core. Rock you from side to side until you aren’t sure which way is up or down. The question comes – what now? How will you respond to this storm? Will you avoid lacing up your shoes and hitting the pavement? Or, will you keep running, one step at a time, allowing yourself to feel the storm but not been shaken by it. Recognize and acknowledge the storm without letting it change your course. The decision is yours.
3rd mile: You can be your greatest advocate or your greatest critic. Pick one.
How you talk to yourself has huge implications for what you can become. Life starts in the battlefield of the mind. There is nothing more powerful than our own thoughts. The battle in life is in pushing away the critics outside and, even more essential, the critic inside telling us that we can’t. We put more limits on ourselves than anyone else around us. So, break free from the chains that we put on ourselves and live from the motto that pushed me through when it got hard – “she believed she could, so she did”.
4th mile: The start line and the finish line are the same thing.
Each day, we are faced with new challenges. Every time we finish something, it’s time for us to start again with something new. We are always unfinished products. We are perfectly imperfect, forever on a quest of becoming more than we were yesterday. What I have learned is that beauty if found in the journey of becoming. Not what we are at the finish line, but our journey on the way.
5th mile: Success looks different for you and me.
The goal is not to be the fastest all the time compared to the people around you. Life’s challenges are not between you and others. The biggest challenge is between you and you. So, set YOUR personal goals and do YOUR personal best. It really doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing. We are each given unique talents. I can tell you that mine is not running speed. But I have other talents. Determination. Will. Tenacity. So, find your talents, harness them, and use your unique talents to fulfil your purpose to do what only you can do in this world.
6th mile: Sometimes we need to slow down.
There are times when we are approaching intersections in our lives that require us to make choices. To decide how we are going to respond to various curveballs thrown at us in life. And in those moments, we have to give ourselves the space and grace to slow down, reflect, meditate, and prepare so we can make the right decisions. In those quiet reflection moments, we often make our best decisions that position us correctly on life’s journey. After all, life is a marathon, not a sprint.
7th mile: Rest and recovery is essential to prevent injury.
Both in marathons and in life, we must make sure we schedule in periods of rest and recovery to be our best. If we push ourselves too hard, we can run ourselves down and we can’t be ready to serve others. We can’t pour into others if our own cup is empty. Despite the world’s messages of go-go-go, sometimes we have to say no-no-no so that we can just breath and be with ourselves. Our bodies need it. And, our minds do, too.
8th mile: It’s not about the pace. It’s about the purpose.
Ever worked on something for so long and it felt like you weren’t making any progress? Or waited for something that seemed to take an eternity despite your efforts? What I learned on the road is that it does not matter how fast or slow you go. It matters that you keep taking steps toward your goal. You started the journey for a reason. Harness that and push forward at your own pace, finding joy in the process not the product.
9th mile: Your power is in your breath.
Our bodies are influenced heavily by the chemical makeup of oxygen in our bloodstream at any given time. Whether we are running a marathon or walking around our living room chasing our children, our breath dictates our steps. Our entire neurological, cardiological, every-logical system in our bodies can be changed by the power of our breath. So, recognize how you are breathing, and take the time to slow down and breathe deep so you can fully unleash the potential within you.
10th mile: Set your target.
Have you ever had sometime tell you to meet you somewhere, but they didn’t give you an address or any directions? Kind of frustrating, isn’t it? How are you supposed to make it to a destination without having any clue of where you are going? Without a target, we can run around in circles. Research tells us that the strongest predictor of progress is in having a focus. Whether you pick a race from the list of upcoming runs and train toward that target, or you pick a focus at work, choose your target and hone in on that target for maximum success.
11th mile: We need each other on the journey.
Whether it’s in the form of a running coach or a friend, our power can often come from someone around us. Yes, we have to do it because it is our unique journey, but angels come into our lives in the form of an encouraging word from a friend, a hug from a spouse, or a stranger we meet in the grocery store when we run out of K-cups. These moments remind us that the walk is yours alone, but you don’t have to do it alone. Look for those around you that cheer you on and encourage you. Invest in them. Hang on to them tight. And look for ways that you can encourage others each day.
12th mile: When you know your “why”, you can endure any “how”.
What motivates you? Why do you do what you do every day? For me, my why was to show my daughter that when you set your mind to do something and you work hard at it each day on a regular basis, even if it seems insurmountable, you can accomplish it. So, when the alarm goes off at 5am and all you want to do is hit the snooze button, or you test a new method at work and it fails, or fall short on something you are trying to accomplish, you get up anyway. You fight the urge to throw in the towel. You try again. You push forward toward your “why”. Knowing your why is essential to propel you toward the finish line.
13th mile: The biggest part of the journey is in the preparation to cross the finish line, not the finish line itself.
You can’t get off the couch on Tuesday and run a marathon on Saturday. You have to prepare. Preparation takes time. It means acquiring new routines and new exercises. It means learning new skills and how to stick with them. This creates change in us. It is in these seemingly small daily successes that the power to change occurs. These small daily changes that we see as “preparation” are actually compounding to create the change we want to see. Like seeing a photograph of a child six months ago and seeing how different they look now, but not necessarily noticing it along the way when you see her every day. It reminds us that it doesn’t mean that change isn’t occurring even if we don’t notice it each day. The rising sun presents a new opportunity to make that small step closer to your goal. Let’s get to stepping.
.1 mile: Never underestimate the power of one.
That last .1 miles was the hardest. Not physically, but emotionally. In that .1 miles, memories of several people in my life who have gained their wings over the last several years flooded my mind with every step. I heard their cheers as their recalled voices filled my soul. The finish life of the previous six months of training and daily focus on this originally impossible goal was in my view. I saw the finish line. It was right there. And in that last .1 miles, I began to reflect on the power of one. One person in our lives can change our lives forever. One person can unleash power in us to become who we were created to be. And, just maybe, YOU could be that one person in someone’s life right now. So, use your days well, my friend, and choose your words carefully. And, each day, look for ways that you can change the world. One mile at a time.
Where is the starting line? Where exactly does the first step of the journey to brave begin? I used to think that the journey to brave was all about fighting and scrapping your way to the top. That it was about being powerful and competitive despite the odds. That it was about pushing your way forward to the top of the mountain despite obstacles. After all, that's what the shows on TV tell us about bravery.
But, what I know now is that sometimes the best way to be brave is to let go. To NOT fight. To allow your life to take you on its own journey - without insisting on your own way.
What I know now is THAT is where true bravery lies. Not in the fight, but in the surrender.
One of my favorite songs talks about the power of the moment when you stop holding on and just allow yourself to be held. The world tells us that we have to hold on and grasp so hard to what we want. Perhaps true bravery is in the letting go and in allowing others around you to hold you while you take a step out on faith without knowing exactly where you are going. Perhaps it is in allowing your higher power to move you where He wants to move you and to use you how He wants to use you, even if it doesn't make sense at the time.
I have learned that true bravery is found in the courage to be vulnerable.
The other day as I was on my own journey to celebrate the first birthday of a very special one-year-old little girl, I was in the car and I heard my GPS say, “GPS signal lost”.
Typically, being the plan-it-all-out kinda girl, that would've caused me some distress. But something hit me that day when I heard that monotone voice on my GPS.
What I know now is that sometimes your GPS signal being lost is the best thing that can happen to you. Because sometimes, you have to get lost in order to find your way.
So, as I turn the pages to the next chapter of my life, it is my hope that I can live less out of my calendar of my own to-do’s and wish list of worldly accomplishments and more in the present beauty of everyday life. To live bravely by not having it all planned out and being okay with that. And to embrace both my gifts and my vulnerabilities so that, just perhaps, my story can help someone else on their journey to brave.
-Dedicated to Amanda Ireland Ward and Lindy Beauregard who taught me so much about being brave and stepping out on faith. Your legacy lives on.
Many years ago, I had the pleasure of buying my first house. Nothing fancy. A starter home. But, for me, it was a mansion. I never expected to live in my own home. With my own basketball goal. With my own yard. I was young and excited about playing "grown up".
Ooohhh…the yard. I never thought I'd be so excited to cut grass. But, I was because it was MY grass. And I knew just enough about yards to be dangerous.
After assessing my new yard with my neophyte knowledge, I determined that I needed to get some seed to fill in some patches. $100 dollars later with a trunk full of seed and gardening tools, I set out on a mission. I worked. I sowed.
I. Was. Exhausted. But the seeds were planted. And so I was proud. It was the next morning when I got a major reality check.
I ran to the window like a little kid running at the whimsical sound of the neighborhood ice cream truck. I switched open my blinds and stared in excitement.
Guess what I saw? Nothing. It looked exactly like it did the day before..
In the background I heard my newlywed husband chuckling beyond control. “Kelly, you are not going to see it grow overnight. It takes time."
In his chuckles and in my innocent embarrassment of my unrealistic expectations, the profoundness of his statement settled in.
“You are not going to see it grow overnight. It takes time."
We live in a fast-paced society. Quick fixes. Immediate expectations. But it was there standing in my living room in my pajamas that I realized the error of my thinking.
Everything that is good and lasting in our lives needs time to take root. Roots that are firmly planted and nurtured. A daily process of watering to promote growth. A process of becoming a new thing.
Fruit can’t be fruit without root. We cannot sow and harvest at the same time. It is a process. And we can't skip the steps. And we can’t rush them.
What are you sowing in your life? Some of us are not sure what to plant or where to plant it. If that is you, I offer you a leadership principle from Stephen Covey - “Begin with the End in Mind".
So, what fruit do you envision in your life? Now, work backwards. What do you need to sow that fruit? What do you need in order for it to take root in your life?
Once you have clarity on your end game, it is equally as challenging to be patient with yourself as you cultivate from root to fruit. It is a process. You are a process. You are becoming your best self.
© 2016 by Dr. Kelly Graves. All rights reserved.
By Eileen Martin, Root Words Contributor
Let’s face it, we live in a society where grief is only tolerated for a short period of time. People are expected to pull up their bootstraps and move on. When someone we care about is hurting, we often want to fix it for them by offering advice or telling them it is not as bad as it seems or we want them to quickly feel better because we are feeling uncomfortable. I mean it is really difficult to see people we love feeling sad and hurt. We want to do something to help ease the pain. This is an honest reaction, but this reaction has more to do with our own uncomfortable feelings rather than the person in front of us who is hurting.
Can you remember a time when you were struggling with something where you may have been grieving, felt lonely or frightened and in your vulnerability you shared your feelings with someone who just seemed to let you express your feelings without expectations or without providing you with all the answers?
They just listened.
And you could just be.
And you felt safe with them in your vulnerability.
If you can recall such a moment in time, then you were more than likely given the gift of holding space.
How can we learn to hold space? Well, in a world where we are used to instant gratification and providing answers to problems it can be a bit challenging. However, you only need to have “twenty seconds of insane courage” to recognize your initial reactions to someone else’s pain and do nothing more than take a deep breath and sit and listen with your heart open. It is in the nothingness where holding space begins.
It is putting your wants and needs aside for a time. It is really looking at the person and recognizing their strength. Holding space for someone means you are providing them with a nourishing, non-judging, non-fixing mindset. You are nurturing growth and healing and offering trust that they are capable of overcoming their challenges. It is sitting and staying a bit with no expectations of the outcome. It is a powerful gift you can offer those who trust you enough to share their pain.
Four simple words to say. If only it were that easy.
Most people struggle with self-acceptance. Just look at the latest New Year's resolution lists and you'll see millions of people who have a list of things that they want to change.
The problem is, for most people, that list is the same as it was last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.
Einstein said that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results". He was on to something (he was a pretty smart man after all).
But perhaps what needs modification are not the external factors in our lives, but the internal ones. The ones that we try to hide and cover up. The ones that don't make it on the covers of our social media sites. The ones that don't pass our personal test to show to the world. It is often these internal struggles that are our biggest demons.
But there is power in knowing that you are all that you need to be. Nothing extra. No fluff. No quick fix plan needed. You. Alone. With all of your strengths and your flaws. With all of your deep dark skeletons in the closet that nobody knows about. With your joys and your hurts. And yes, even your mistakes.
Too many times people look to others to determine who they are. We create social comparisons based on who has the nicest car or who lives in the best ZIP Code. But therein lies the danger.
If you forget that you are beautifully made just as you are, life will knock you down every chance it gets. Like a spectator at a tennis match you will end up looking left and right, and then left again, to determine who you are and where you are going. If all of our efforts are to keep up with the Jones', we will all too soon discover that social status does not provide the happiness and state of contentment that we thought.
And if you find your validation by comparing yourself to others, you will always come up short. Feeling empty. Feeling "less than". Lottery winners are often miserable after winning, with many reporting that they wished that they never won.
But there is an even greater danger. If we are not careful, we inadvertently teach our children to value the search for what we are searching for. We run the risk of teaching them that possessions are what make someone valuable.
And our children begin to value things rather than people. Possessions rather than relationships. And the cycle continues. The reality is that most people go through life searching for validation. But where and how you search is key.
Possessions don't add value. You are not what you have. People's opinions of you---where you come from, your ZIP Code, your past--- don't define you.
So, the question is: who are you really? In the core of your being - your true inner self - without contamination by the world's expectations and pressures.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is having the courage to look inside to find the answer to this question. And then responding to where it leads you...
And, if you dig deep and allow yourself the courage to be vulnerable, you will find that you are more than enough.
Just. As. You. Are.
© 2016 by Dr. Kelly Graves. All rights reserved.
“There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."
Three years ago, my dear friend Lindy Beauregard made this statement to me in relation to the program we co-created and had been growing since 2008 called The Child Response Initiative (CRI). Lindy was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in September 2011. Given about six months to live, this woman-warrior defied the prognosis and fought for two years until her passing in December 2013. Her fight was a fight of strategy. A fight of grace. A fight with a purpose.
This is the story of the Kellin Foundation.
Meet 4-year-old Sara. Served through CRI, Sara was living in a family struggling with domestic violence. Sara’s dad cut off all support to the home as a power and control technique after being served with a restraining order.
Lights. Water. Heat. All off. Mom was not working (another common power and control technique). The family was in crisis.
Lindy and I worked with local resources to get all of these basic needs restored. But, there was another basic need that we identified. A basic need that is not typically considered but essential to childhood - it is the basic need of children to feel safe and normal in an otherwise chaotic environment. To experience the simple and innocent joys of childhood. It was clear that Sara needed that desperately.
You see, separate from basic utilities, Sara’s dad also cut off her dance class membership, which was the one activity for Sara that brought pure joy and normalcy to her week. While community resources are in place to assist with basic needs such as utilities, there are limited resources to help with the basic needs of facilitating the emotional health and wellness of children through activities such as dance for Sara. Yet, these are essential for children.
In response, Lindy's Kids was founded to provide assistance to kids and families to help ensure safety and wellness, with the goal of allowing kids to enjoy being kids. Lindy’s Kids was a fund that was allocated specifically to support kids and families in meeting those unique needs.
Lindy’s Kids needed a home. Lindy and I talked to several local non-profits that could potentially serve as a home for the Lindy's Kids program, but because of the crisis response nature of the kind of work that we do we could not find a good fit that could respond as quickly as we would prefer.
Lindy's desire as she fought her battle with cancer was to create our own foundation so that Lindy’s Kids would always have a place to call home that would not have red tape barriers that would keep us from helping kids. I assumed we would just call it “Lindy’s Kids.” But, Lindy had another plan. Whoever knew Lindy is well aware that she was always very strategic.
Six months before she died, she asked me to meet her over a cup of coffee at one of our favorite hangouts. There, in the booth with an outwardly fragile woman who was inwardly the strongest woman I have ever met, Lindy proposed that instead of a nonprofit called Lindy’s Kids, we needed to think bigger. She proposed a nonprofit that would be called something different but that would still be the home of Lindy’s Kids. Over medium roast coffee and a bagel, she asked me to launch this non-profit as a testimony to our joint legacy of giving back to the next generation. A legacy of working together to make a difference in the world. Feeling overwhelming admiration for this amazing woman, I agreed. With one condition – she needed to pick the name and we needed to decide together its founding mission and vision. She agreed. We sipped our coffee and casted visions of how we could make a difference together, even beyond however many days she had left on this earth.
Two weeks later, I got a phone call from Lindy. She had decided on the name. I can still remember the excitement in her voice that pushed through the weakness she felt. She shared it with me - The Kellin Foundation.
At first, it didn’t register, but after about 20 seconds, I understood. Kelly. Lindy. Forever connected. Connected in a joint legacy of making a difference together. It was perfect.
That was 2013. Three months after that conversation, Lindy died peacefully with her husband (and equally amazing human being) by her side. Several years have passed since that time that have allowed for grieving, healing, and situational changes that have made it clear that the time has come. Time to grow. Time to live out our legacy.
The soil has been prepared. The seeds have been planted. The right people are in place. It is time to work. It is time to cultivate change. Change not only for kids and families, but for individuals. For communities.
This is the story of the Kellin Foundation. Join us as we work toward making a difference together.
©2016. Dr. Kelly Graves. All Rights Reserved.
Human connection. It is perhaps the most powerful force to the human species. It is what drives us in daily interaction. It is how we survive.
From the day we are born we are innately hard wired to connect with people. We turn toward people to help meet our needs. And as we go from infant to toddler, toddler to adolescent, and adolescent to adult, our human need to connect in relationship with others remains. It might look different but the importance of connection is undeniable.
This begs the question then: what do we need in order to connect with others?
What is it that allows us to dig deep down in ourselves to make connection happen? What allows us to be vulnerable and show our true selves?
Although the answer to that question is different for different people, there are several foundational elements that are universal. Elements like trust and safety. A comfort in knowing that I can remove the mask and reveal my true self without fear of judgement or ridicule.
True, authentic connections require this type of vulnerability. These types of connections are beyond the casual small talk that occurs on aisle three of the grocery store. These are deeper. Soul connections. Powerful exchanges between two people that provide the soil within which to grow to another level as a person. To honestly and constructively examine yourself to determine where and how you need to maneuver.
Connecting in this way brings clarity. It brings healing. It brings empowerment. And when you have connection, healing, and empowerment, you have the foundational ingredients to make changes in your life that you never would have thought possible. Growth without limits. Connection to destiny's path and the confidence to pursue it.
An idea planted almost 10 years ago, it is time for KELLIN, PLLC to grow beyond limits. The time has come. A time to grow and cultivate a legacy of giving back to our community through authentic connections that cultivate change. To reach people in a new way. To develop relationships that allow for healing to take place. To facilitate and harvest change.
Consistent with our mission, KELLIN is rooted in the power of authentic connections for healing, empowerment and change.
KELLIN Connects in a variety of ways, from offering high quality clinical therapeutic services in outpatient settings to training, consultation, and program evaluation. KELLIN Connects with individuals, families, organizations, and systems to build those relationships and effect change on every level.
In addition, KELLIN Connects with our sister nonprofit, the KELLIN Foundation (www.kellinfoundation.org), which provides reduced-fee and grant-supported programming and services that support safety and wellness in children, individuals, families and communities.
And finally, consistent with the importance that KELLIN places on Connection, we are excited to announce our new blog called "Root Words” – an inspirational and motivational blog grounded in the latest research that challenges us to get us back in touch with what is truly important in our lives. It will prompt us to dig down deep to reconnect with the root of who we are - with our true, authentic selves. This is essential for genuine and true and lasting change, for the connection that we have with ourselves is the most important connection of all.
Are you ready to connect?
Visit us at www.kellinconnects.com and subscribe to Root Words. Connect with us and stay tuned for more exciting news to come!
© 2016. Dr. Kelly Graves. All Rights Reserved.
Root Words is an inspirational and motivational blog grounded in the latest research that challenges us to get us back in touch with what is truly important in our lives. It prompts us to dig down deep to reconnect with the root of who we are - with our true, authentic selves. This is essential for genuine and true and lasting change, for the connection that we have with ourselves is the most important connection of all.
Root Words was created by Dr. Kelly Graves, Read about Dr. Graves and the full Kellin team here.